Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Ready to Write Again?

Some people in the NaNo world are gearing up to write another story. The challenge to write 50,000 words in a month is no longer restricted to the month of November. They have camp sessions in both April and July. If you want to participate in that challenge, go here to sign up.

I am not participating in April’s camp. Other things have my attention right now, and my new story idea is half-baked, at best. If I do participate in Camp later this year, I am not planning on posting daily encouragement as I complete the challenge. I will save that for November.

But, back to today’s topic. Has a new story emerged yet? Are you wondering if it’s worth writing?

How Do You Know If Your Story Idea is Worth Pursuing?

At first, alas, you do not know if your new idea is THE idea. Let the “what if” scenarios play out before you. Do you feel this story have potential? Is the theme of the new idea one that resonates with you? Does it have a point? You may laugh, but I've found some story ideas of mine have no point.

If you answered yes to those three questions, chances are you have a story worth pulling your hair out over. However, you may not know it’s worth anything until after the first draft is complete and you’re looking over it with fresh eyes. Writing is unfair. If you’re going to be a writer, you have to deal with it.

For right now, make notes on your story. See if you have any great ideas about where the story could go. If you start getting excited about the plot, chances are you have a good idea on your hands. Either that, or you’re a fan of your own work. That’s okay, too. If this story is going to get somewhere, you’re going to have to like what you’ve written.

All Ideas Are NOT Created Equal

Every story idea will not be a best seller. Some are not worth pursuing. Some are not worth making notes over. But you don’t know when a new idea hits you which one that will be. I’ve heard it suggested to keep a file on your computer for ideas. Jot down your thoughts and go on your way. When you need inspiration, check the file.

Currently, I’m mulling through an idea that I will likely never write down. Unless I see a reason to add these events to my story time line, I’m content at where I left the characters. However, I am still letting the scenes play in my head. I might grab an idea from this story that will be helpful later on. We’ll see.

You Are Not Wasting Your Time

An investor once told parents of a friend of mine, “There are two ways to make money. Spend it or save it.” Spending money on something you think will make you more money is called investing.

From here on out, do not think of the time you spend mulling over stories that are never written as “wasting time.” You are investing your time in a make believe world, trying to determine which idea will be worth penning next. Don’t let the time involved in your story ideas take over your life, of course, but don’t consider any of it a waste of effort. Writing is a craft. It takes time to get it right. The more time you log in this area, the better you’ll get at it. Eventually.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

When Do I Stop?

There comes a point where every writer must let go of their work and trust that they can do no better at this point. It may come for you after your fifth sweep of the draft, annihilating the last of your typos. It may come for you after your fifteenth draft, when you’ve FINALLY fixed that plot hole and figured out those pesky scientific details that your readers will no longer kill you over. But there will come a point where, for the moment, you are done.

Done? Really?

Yes. Your story is complete, your beta readers have weighed in, and you have edited with their suggestions in mind. Starting on another editing sweep will likely drive you crazy, so set the red pen down and step back.

You need time away from your story before you can come back at it with a fresh set of eyes. You will see more things that need to be corrected, since, alas, you are NOT perfect. But don’t count your last round of editing as worthless.

Though I’ve now lost count of how many times I’ve edited my first book, I will tell you it is not done. I will also tell you that each round of editing has improved my writing, and the story at large. I’m just struggling with necessary details that I am unsure of at the moment, so I’m letting the story rest. The princess stories are far more interesting at the moment.

What Now?

It depends on you and your needs. If you want to self-publish, make sure your draft is ready. I suggest a second round of beta readers before moving forward. If you can afford it, I also suggest hiring an editor. Self-published authors have a bad reputation of selling books to the public that are not ready. Don’t be one of those people, but one of the others who has a book they love and they want to sell it immediately.

If that’s not for you, start researching publishers, drafting queries, and purchasing envelopes and stamps. Once you’ve heard back from all the publishers (alas, the majority will be rejections), then take another look at your story.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Since every writer is different, I can’t tell when you reach the point that your draft is ready. If you keep finding major typos every other chapter for your current draft, then you probably aren’t ready. If you don’t worry about typos, your beta readers love your book, and you feel confident, chances are at least better that you’re ready.

There will always be something that can be fixed. But as I discussed in November, there is no such thing as a perfect draft. And I suspect if you find a best-selling author and are free to question them, they will tell you of a piece in their book that they would change now.

Don’t wait until your draft is perfect. Wait until you and your story are done.

Trust me, there is a difference.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A Glimpse of My Process

I started making notes while I edited my ABNA entry. We all have those moments when we reread our work, horrified to discover a glaring error that must be corrected. Here are some of my reactions as I’m reading my notes and fixing things.



Hmm. “Royal blood” or “royal blood”? Which looks better? I capitalize King and Queen, Royal Seal, and so on. But capitalizing Royalty or any appearance of “royal” paired with something less official makes it seem wrong somehow.

**Chose “royal blood” and only capitalized it for official things with names**


Second page was easier to fix than the first page.

Oh, wait. Forgot to look over all my notes.

I’m not the only one who does that, right?

 First chapter finished! Time for chocolate!


 [first try]

Monique came at once, her silk nightgown seeming to float behind her in the cool night air. Her straight blonde hair was tousled. She had little concern for her appearance at the moment. With the messenger and her maid holding torches to light her way, Monique’s only concern was for Jasmine.

Monique made what had become an obligatory stop down the hallway. The same messenger that sent for her waited outside the Queen’s bedroom.

 Oh, look. First the messenger is leading Monique down the hall. Then the same person is waiting outside the Queen’s chambers. I’ve created a clone!

[second try]

Monique came at once, her silk nightgown seeming to float behind her in the cool night air. Her straight blonde hair was tousled. She had little concern for her appearance at the moment. With the messenger and her maid holding torches to light her way, Monique’s only concern was for Jasmine.

Monique made what had become an obligatory stop down the hallway, just beyond the steps, twelve paces beyond the doors that led to Jasmine’s chambers. A servant waited outside the Queen’s bedroom.


 Hooray! Two hours later, I’m through with Chapter One!


Gah. Have to name this waterfall, since it’s a landmark. This makes my third landmark in this imaginary country. Dragon Claw Cliff was easy. Valley of Flowers was also easy and very unspecific. But the name I have right now is the Wynster Falls. This WILL NOT work as a permanent name.
**Final name: Peyton’s Tears**

 [first try]

She had been focused on the questions surrounding her suitor, Henry. Does he love me? He hadn’t said it yet, but Jasmine felt his actions spoke his heart. 
*dances in circles* Just added in some advice from the mentor about true love that will come into play later. YEAH for foreshadowing!

[second try]

She had been focused on the questions surrounding her suitor, Henry. Does he love me? He hadn’t said so, but Jasmine felt his actions spoke his heart.

She planned for her husband to be just as in love with her as she was with him. The problem was that every suitor seemed to fall in love moments after meeting her. At least, they told her often enough. But Monique, who wanted Jasmine to marry almost as much as the Queen, had cautioned her about testing what men said against what they did. Men who spoke only of themselves and ignored every word she said, did not truly love her.

“I did not love Caleb the moment I laid eyes on him, Jasmine. He noticed me, and he wanted to care for me. But it took time. Love, true love, is like that. When you care about someone more than yourself, that is when you have found true love.” 
Judging by the amount of green that keeps popping up in Jasmine’s wardrobe, I think that might be her favorite color. Huh. The things you learn while editing...
Yes, I should have known that already.


Good thing I double-checked that. Trevor has black hair, not brown like I thought. Hmm. Should I make him have brown hair? That might work better.

My first drafts are really bad with lacking descriptions of not only scenery, but people.


Rereading revisions from yesterday. Realized with Trevor’s change in hair color, he has the same color eyes and hair as Prince James. This won’t work. The prince’s description has now changed.

Wow. Almost a page and a half of no notes other than a capitalization issue. Either that conversation is some really good writing, or I’m just blind right now. I’ll assume the first choice for now. ;)

Changed “doctor” to “physician.” Only real significant change, aside from Caleb’s hair color. Apparently I like brown hair and blue eyes.

My writer brain is going, “you need to describe this scene more.” The lazy part of me is going, “NOOOO!”

Hooray! That wasn’t hard!

Yeah! Punishment scene finished! Break time before I go back to the dungeons.

Emotional scenes are SO draining!


Googling my question didn’t help. The answer to the medical question is an invention that has come about after my time period. *sigh* Guess I’ll leave what I have.

Oh joy. I looked over to the next page. I’ve marked a section with a single unhelpful note. “Fix.”

I think at this point in the book, I was tired. Chapters are shorter.


So, how do you edit?